High-end medical services on offer for tourists
2018-04-09, MA ZHIPING and LIU XIAOLI in Haikou

Every year, tens of thousands of Chinese women travel overseas — as far as the United States — for an injection of 9-valent human papillomavirus (HPV) cervical cancer vaccine. But that large number of special travelers from the Chinese mainland may be reduced as the vaccine will soon be made available at Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone, in South China’s Hainan province.

Shen Xiaoming, governor of Hainan, told the media recently that 9-valent HPV cervical cancer vaccine will be available sometime soon at Boao Super Hospital, which opened on March 31 at the international medical tourism pilot zone, the only one in China.

This means that Hainan will be the first place to offer 9-valent HPV cervical cancer vaccine in the Chinese mainland.

“Hainan, as China’s only provincial special economic zone, should fully take advantage of the special policies granted by the State to the zone to develop the healthcare industry as a pillar industry,” said Shen. He hopes that Hainan will develop a high-end medical services industry, with Boao Lecheng pilot zone playing a leading role.

“It should not just be a medical services provider, but also a driving sector for Hainan,” said Shen.

Official statistics show more than 600,000 Chinese went abroad as medical tourists last year.

Being a demonstration project launched to pilot the nation’s healthcare reform in 2013 and a platform for international medical tourism cooperation and communication, the Boao Lecheng pilot zone enjoys nine special preferential policies such as special permission for importing medical technology, medical equipment and medicine, under which foreign companies will be able to set up medical organizations in the zone and foreign medicines can enjoy special import tariffs. 

It is allowed to import 9-valent HPV cervical cancer vaccine and other drugs without asking permission from the central authorities, as other provinces and regions have to, for the time being.

The pilot zone, 6 kilometers from the site of the Boao Forum for Asia, covers an area of 20 square kilometers and is expected to be completed in five years. To date, 27 projects have been completed or are under construction. 

Five of them have opened, offering high-end medical services. And the latest one, Boao Super Hospital, is a sharing platform for clinical centers supported by latest state-of-the-art equipment and served by leading doctors from all over the country. 

Unlike most domestic hospitals that are run by the government, Boao Super Hospital adopts a marketwise operation and accepts investments of either private or foreign nature, according to He Pengfei, deputy director of the administration committee for the Boao Lecheng pilot zone.

He said the government owns the sharing platform, providing essential services including imaging diagnosis, surgery, pharmacy and sterilization for the clinics. But the operation mode will be brand new. Each clinic is allowed to set up its own company and has its own legal person.

“The hospital will provide high-end international medical services for domestic patients, and also plans to build an international clinical medical innovation center for wealthy medical travelers from all over the world, by taking the geographical advantage of Hainan and the increasing influence of the Boao Forum for Asia,” He added.

So far, leading veteran doctors in 10 medical subjects, including departments of infectious diseases, urology, plastic and medical beauty, have confirmed they will settle at the hospital. 

Boao Yiling Life Care Center, the first of its kind in China that provides comprehensive life care services, is a high-end medical tourism service institution which has been operating in Boao since early last year.

With an investment of 60 million yuan ($9.5 million), and covering an area of 3.7 hectares in its first phase, the center now has more than 220,000 members all over the world.

Beyond advanced Western medical technologies, the members can also receive traditional Chinese medicine treatments at the center. 

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